Volleyball Falls to St. Thomas in Five Sets in National Finals
Sunday, November 18, 2012
Story by Mitch Blankespoor
HOLLAND, MI – The Calvin College women’s volleyball team fell short in its bid for a second national title in three seasons. Down two sets to none, the University of St. Thomas Tommies came back to win a thrilling five set match in from of a record crowd of 3,517 fans by scores of 13-25, 17-25, 25-18, 25-16, 15-9.
Calvin started out hot. Three kills from sophomore Emily Crowe (Granger, IN/Mishawaka Penn), Lizzie Kamp (Orland Park, IL/Chicago Christian) and Maggie Kamp (Orland Park, IL/Chicago Christian) gave the Knights a 15-9 lead into the media timeout. Lizzie Kamp then stepped up to the service line with the scoreboard reading 17-10. Two service aces and two attack errors from the Tommies gave Calvin the 21-10 lead. A Jen Pluymert (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Christian) service ace gave the Knights the first set the lead.
Calvin hit a blistering .458 clip in the first set while holding St. Thomas to a .103 attacking percentage.
The Knights kept up their hot streak, winning the first three points of the set. Both teams traded side outs until the media timeout, with Calvin leading 15-12. Calvin outscored St. Thomas 10-5 after the timeout. Two consecutive attack errors from Tommie middle hitter Kelly Foley gave Calvin the second set victory.
Calvin continued its torrid hitting pace, hitting a .467 clip. St. Thomas hit .156.
“I thought we came out with the right mindset,” Calvin head coach Amber Warners said after the match. “I give a ton of credit to St. Thomas, they were resilient.”
Resilient is exactly what the Tommies were. St. Thomas earned an 8-4 advantage with kills from McKenna Reagan, who had not seen action in either of the first two sets. Calvin was able to cut the deficit to three points on three different occasions, but could not tie up the set. Freshmen setter Sarah Kosbab served six straight points, and St. Thomas coasted to a third set victory.
St. Thomas continued to get better, hitting a .245 clip in the third set. Calvin seemed like a different team entirely, hitting a mere .091.
Each team won six of the first 12 points in the fourth set. The Tommies went on a 9-3 run from a service run by senior libero Kaiti Wachter. Calvin got as close as four points at 16-12. Three attack errors from the Knights gave the Tommies the fourth set.
The fifth set started tied at 4-4, then St. Thomas went on a 4-1 run. This proved to be lethal for the Knights. A block from Kelly Foley and Jill Greenfield gave the Tommies their first national title in program history.
The Tommies were led by Greenfield, who was later named the NCAA III Tournament’s Most Valuable Player, and Kelly Foley. Each recorded 14 kills. Sarah Atkinson hit a .455 clip while recording 12 kills.
Calvin was led by Crowe, who hit a .407 clip while scoring 14 kills. Junior setter Megan Rietema (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Christian) dished out 45 assists. Lizzie and Maggie Kamp each recorded 12 kills.
Calvin finishes its season with a record of 33-3 and a national runner-up finish. The senior class for the Knights, consisting of Kim Start (Grand Rapids Christian), Lizzie Kamp (Orland Park, IL/Chicago Christian), Jen Pluymert (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Christian), Julia Hilbrands (Grand Rapids Christian), Kelly Gordon (Caledonia/South Christian), Becca Ratkov (New Baltimore/Anchor Bay), Kim Start (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Christian) and Megan Korber (Gilford, NH/Gilford) leave the Calvin volleyball program as the most successful class in program history. With a career record of 124-15, this group of seven women impacted the program on and off the court.
“These six ladies are like my daughters,” Warners said after the match. “I would do anything for them, and I know they will do anything for me. They will be greatly missed, but have left a great impact on this program.”